She's come a long way since she was first "discovered" by a photographer at Milford Beach on Auckland's North Shore.
But Rachel Hunter – who now lives in Los Angeles after making it big on the world modelling stage – says New Zealand is still home, and always will be.
She remembers well the day she was approached on the beach by a man who claimed to have an eye for potential talent.
It was all a bit "creepy" for a young teen enjoying a day out in the sun, she says.
But she took a business card off the man and passed it on to her mum.
The rest is history.
Hunter was a special VIP guest during the launch of the Well Foundation at the Spencer On Byron Hotel in Auckland last Wednesday night.
The foundation has been set up to fundraise for new and innovative concepts for the Waitemata District Health Board.
Its first project is an Ultrasound Procedural Training Unit at North Shore Hospital.
It's a cause Hunter has thrown herself behind.
Everyone, she says, deserves access to the best possible health care.
And the North Shore link makes the project extra special.
"I was born in the North Shore Hospital," she says. "And my grandfather, who I was very close to died there."
Hospitals, she says, play a huge part in people's lives at both ends of the spectrum.
Well Foundation chief executive Andrew Young says the unit is exactly the kind of new and exciting project his organisation wants to support.
He says it will have fantastic training benefits for the health board and could provide potential revenue as a national first by attracting trainees from around the country.
The foundation wants to raise $120,000 to purchase state-of-the-art surgical mannequin with life-like anatomy to train staff in the unit to perform medical procedures using ultrasound scans.
Donations can be made into The Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust Westpac bank account 03 0219 0391544 00 using the reference name Well or the reference number 12345.
Alternatively, cheques made out to The Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust can be posted to PO Box 1327, Shortland St, Auckland.
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